Sunday, November 4, 2012

Should I Throw Away my Vote on Gary Johnson?

I voted on Saturday.  With a heavy heart and some hesitation, I voted for Obama.  In 2008, I walked sidewalks and pounded doors for Obama, hoping that he would reverse the rampant abuses of executive power committed by George Bush.*  He didn't.  Beyond ending torture, he left those abuses  in place, and strengthened them by making them bipartisan.  How much that was by choice, and how much it was forced on him by a still hysterical Congress and public is debatable, but those policies have remained.  Certainly voting for Romney was out of the question; Romney gives all appearance of wanting to continue the abuses, and perhaps even restore torture.

But what about a third party candidate?  I live in New Mexico, which is considered solid for Obama, so we can afford to throw away a few votes.  Our former governor, Gary Johnson, is running as the Libertarian Party candidate.  Johnson favors ending the PATRIOT Act, maintaining proper judicial oversight over all searches, requiring all terrorism suspects to be charged, and making airport security less intrusive and more risk-based.  He wants to avoid foreign wars.  He would even allow people wronged by the War on Terror to sue for damages.  In all this, he is definitely my kind of guy.

Unfortunately, he also wants to balance the budget in a single year.  He would eliminate federal support for Fannie and Freddie, which currently securitize up to 80% of all home mortgage, with the remaining one being held by the bank making the loan.  He apparently opposed raising the debt ceiling in order to force an immediate balanced budget.  He also favors much tighter monetary policy.  His website vaguely says, "Get the Federal Reserve out of the business of creating money, quantitative easing and other efforts to override the free market."  It also makes clear that he wants the Fed to focus on price stability only and not unemployment.  He has also said in an interview that he opposes "printing money,"** favors abolishing the Federal Reserve, and wants a "strong dollar."  All of these, I believe, would be disastrous for the economy (though not as bad as the gold standard Ron Paul proposes).  It is further evidence that success in business does not necessarily translate into understanding of a national economy.  

So in some ways I am right back where I was when the issue was Ron Paul.  Am I willing to vote for a candidate I expect to blow up the domestic economy because I support him on the War on Terror?  And, if not, why not?  Except that ultimately the decision was much easier with Paul.  There were reasons to dislike him beyond his economic policy.

To be continued.

*The War in Iraq was less of an issue, because we were already in the process of withdrawal.
**To be fair to Johnson, I do not think he means that remark literally.  Taken in context, it is clear that he means we should stop printing money to finance government expenditures, in other words, that we should balance the budget, not that we should adopt the gold standard or some other commodity-based money system.

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